As a professional in the field of aging, Sara had seen it all—until her own mother broke her hip at the age of 88 and became profoundly confused, unable to live in her own home. Join Sara on her journey through the strangeness that is dementia while trying to make sense of it all and finding humor in the details. [Editor's note: Sara no longer contributes to Silver Planet, but we have made her archived blog entries available as a service to our readers.]
Some Medicaid bureaucrats and state legislators have it all wrong. The commonly encountered misconception that families sock away the elder’s financial resources and eagerly await eligibility for Medicaid is a misguided perspective at best. More likely, it’s a point of view born of personal inexperience.
I just wrote a check for $6,000 to pay my mother’s February care at the assisted living. The check for February represents the end of Reva’s money. After years of independence, thrift and pride, my mother is broke, flat broke.
Reva was born in 1918, a member of the Greatest Generation. Even though my mother worked as a social worker all her life (she retired from the Salvation Army), she was born of the mindset that she should pay her own way and do so in a responsible fashion. She was single after age 50 and took pride in living a comfortable lifestyle on a very modest income.
Her two-bedroom condo in Phoenix sold a few months before the onset of the housing crisis. She netted about a $100,000. At six grand a month, that goes pretty fast. Here’s the surprise: No one every thought my mother would outlive her money. No one. So now she has to use Medicaid to pay for her assisted living.
Dreading the application process, I call the Department of Social & Health Services and made an appointment to submit the application. Wouldn’t you know it, the social worker, Les, turned out to be just great—helpful, efficient, and professional. He had moved to Seattle from Hawaii, where he worked for Salvation Army Family Services. I felt good about that.
March 1 should be the Medicaid start date. Reva will be left with about $60 per month for “personal things,” whatever that means. Now I start the process of trying to find a geriatrician who will take Medicaid. That’s not going to be easy.
A brief note: To be clear, the care my mother receives at Gaffney House is excellent. It could not be better and is worth every penny. She will remain there when she converts to Medicaid funding.
Watch out for those for-profit assisted living outfits. They don’t usually convert a private-pay client to Medicaid; however, if they say they will, get it in writing. If they will not explicitly make that promise, run.
By Sara Myers
The Good Enough Daughter Blog